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Tasting French Terroir

The History of an Idea

Thomas Parker (Author)

Available worldwide

Paperback, 248 pages
ISBN: 9780520277519
May 2015
$34.95, £28.00
Other Formats Available:
This book explores the origins and significance of the French concept of terroir, demonstrating that the way the French eat their food and drink their wine today derives from a cultural mythology that developed between the Renaissance and the Revolution. Through close readings and an examination of little-known texts from diverse disciplines, Thomas Parker traces terroir’s evolution, providing insight into how gastronomic mores were linked to aesthetics in language, horticulture, and painting and how the French used the power of place to define the natural world, explain comportment, and frame France as a nation.
List of Illustrations

Introduction: Terroir and the Culinary Roots of French Identity
1. Rabelais’s Table and the Poets of the Pleiade
2. The Plantification of People
3. Courtside Purity and the Academie Francaise’s Attack on the Earth
4. France’s Green Evolution: Terroir’s Expulsion from Versailles
5. Saint-Evremond and the Invention of Geographical Connoisseurship
6. Terroir and Nation Building: Boulainvilliers, Du Bos, and the Case of Class
7. The Normalization of Terroir: Paris and the Provinces
Conclusion: Terroir and Nation: From Geographic Identity to Psychogeography

Thomas Parker is Assistant Professor of French and Francophone Studies at Vassar College. He is the author of Volition, Rhetoric, and Emotion in the Work of Pascal.
"An academic, meticulously researched, attentive journey through to the very complex roots of the concept of terroir . . . If you're looking for a book that will both fascinate you and challenge all your preconceptions about terroir, France and the French, this is it."—Tamlyn Currin
"Of great value to researchers . . . Highly recommended."—CHOICE connect
"Admirable... Thomas Parker has greatly increased our understanding of the intellectual origins of terroir."—Council for European Studies
"This book can help the French to answer a question they sometimes ask about why other cultures and countries have not adopted the notion of terroir, even those who share with France the reality of terroir products."—Review of Agricultural & Environmental Studies
"Innovative and revealing... This is a wide-ranging, thoroughly researched, and well-articulated work."—H-France
"With impressive erudition and an original marshaling of texts, Tasting French Terroir traces French national identity in the ever-intriguing, ever-evolving bond between cuisine and country."—Priscilla Parkhurst Ferguson, Professor of Sociology, Columbia University, and author of Word of Mouth: What We Talk About When We Talk About Food

Tasting French Terroir makes an important contribution to myriad fields, including culinary history, French literature and philosophy, and political science. Demonstrating ingenuity with its sources and chronological scope, this book will be a wonderful resource for a wide range of scholars.”—Jennifer J. Davis, author of Defining Culinary Authority: The Transformation of Cooking in France, 1650–1830

"Thomas Parker elucidates and elaborates our understanding of terroir with his unique history of this polysemous word.  In Tasting French Terroir, Parker does not rely solely on classic French texts engaging with food and wine (say Brillat-Savarin and Curnonsky) to make sense of terroir’s meaning and import. His examinations of authors as varied as Rabelais, Montaigne, DeSerres and Rousseau provide new revelations about the long celebration of France’s natural bounty—what the French consider to be a great and generous geography. Parker leaves no stone unturned in his fascinating quest and makes a significant contribution to our understanding of French identity, the shifting tastes of the French, and the many meanings of terroir."—Amy Trubek, author of The Taste of Place: A Cultural History into Terroir and Faculty Director of the Food Systems Graduate Program at UVM

"Tasting French Terroir is about the untranslatable.  It takes us on a sweeping journey inside a word, a concept, an experience that often appears inaccessible or veiled to those outside of French language and culture.  Using a remarkable array of sources, Parker guides us inside French history and culture to demonstrate how food and wine came to be seen as the material manifestation of terroir.  This is a book that will be savored by food lovers everywhere."—Kolleen M. Guy, author of When Champagne Became French and Associate Professor of History at the University of Texas at San Antonio

2015 Gourmand Special Jury Award for Best Wine Books in the World, Gourmand World Cookbook Awards

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